A 30-year-old man from Delhi ended up with his stomach ‘open like a book’ after he walked into a bar looking to have a good time.
According to a HT report, without realising what he was drinking, he had a cocktail which had white smoke flowing from it. The drink which should have been had only after the ‘smoke’ dissipated, he gulped down in one draught. What he consumed was liquid nitrogen that has a boiling point of -195.8 degree Celsius and is used to instantly freeze food and drinks. The colourless liquid is also used to cool computers and in cryogenic medical procedures like removing warts and cancerous tissues. What he did not know was, when used to freeze drinks, they should only be consumed after the nitrogen has completely evaporated.
The drink was followed with extreme pain, swelling of the abdomen and breathlessness. “After I gulped down the drink, I started feeling very uncomfortable, like how you feel when there is an acid reflux. The bartender passed me another drink and I had it, not thinking too much about the discomfort. However, within seconds, my stomach started swelling and I was in unbearable pain. Breathing was also difficult,” said the man, who did not want to be named. He was rushed to a hospital in Gurgaon where the doctors took him to surgery immediately and were shocked to find his stomach had a massive hole in it and “was open like a book”.
Dr. Goswami who treated him said he came to the emergency section feeling drowsy and restless with an abnormally swollen stomach. His His heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation were all haywire.
“Consuming liquid nitrogen can cause havoc in a person’s system. By nature, liquid nitrogen expands manifolds and evaporates when left at room temperature. The gas did not have an escape route after the person consumed it and the sphincter closed, this is what led to a perforation (a hole) in his stomach,” said Dr Amit Deepta Goswami, the person’s doctor and consultant of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon.
The lactic acid levels in his body was extremely high, which meant oxygen deprivation. “This meant that there was oxygen deprivation in the body. He had to be put on a ventilator immediately. A CT scan showed that there was free air in the abdominal cavity, meaning that there was a tear in the stomach or the intestines,” Dr Goswami said.
During the course of the surgery, it was also found that this man had a much larger perforation than is normally present in his stomach, “Usually perforations are smaller and can be sewed up. However, in this case, we found that the middle and the lower parts of the stomach were open like a book. It was not possible to stitch it back, besides the tissue near the tear was also damaged. So, we had to remove the damaged portion of the stomach and connect the rest to the small intestine,” said Dr Mriganka S Sharma, co-surgeon in the case.
Post surgery, he remained on ventilator for about three more days. However, eventually he managed to recover and its been two month since the incident. “I now realised I should not have consumed the drink without knowing what was in it. I have stopped drinking since,” he said.